Up the steep slopes for a trace fossil reward in Dammeron Valley

Today Team Utah 2022 climbed the outcrops in Dammeron Valley, north of St. George, to collect trace fossils from the Co-op Creek Limestone Member of the Carmel Formation (Middle Jurassic). It was a bit of a slog up the rubbly talus cones that provided passage over the cliffs, but the trace fossils up there were worth it. Beautiful day, but our friends the gnats lurked in the shadows. Thanks to Nick for the image.

The very base of the section is the gypsum-bearing red claystone and siltstone Temple Cap Formation, shown here with Lucie for scale.

About midway up the slope, just above the highest stromatolitic unit, abundant trace fossils appear. Vicky is ready to collect!

The trace-bearing outcrop is not very photogenic, but those brown slabs on the surface have numerous ichnofossils. Location: N 37.276667°, W 113.640350°.

The red marker shows our study site in Dammeron Valley. Note it is just above the boundary between the whitish lower part and brown upper part of the member.

I was particularly interested in these funnel-shaped traces (the circular pits), which were abundant, along with the familiar Gyrochorte. We haven’t seen these elsewhere in the Carmel Formation in SW Utah.

This slab shows a thick mass of Planolites trace fossils. Each stripe on the Jacob’s Staff is 10 cm.

And that was it for the day. Later we’ll report here on what we found after our lab analyses back in Wooster.

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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